Brevity Nineteen

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A Hot Bath in April

By Joshua Dolezal

This cold snap in late spring has brought much needed rain, and it has given me back my morning ritual. All winter, I rose early and drew a scalding bath first thing, smothering toast with apricot jam while water drummed in the tub. When the weather warmed then turned hot, I began sleeping beneath a sheet and the footsteps of heavy dreams, craving only a cool washcloth against my skin. Night and day converged in a stream of heat and half-waking.

Thirty degrees this morning, cold for late April. I am up early, ravenous after a brisk seven hours beneath a quilt. Water tattoos the porcelain tub, muffled by the half-closed bathroom door. I spread apricot jam over the butter, watching them melt into the toast. The kitchen tile chills my feet, bumps rippling across my back.

Before long, I will plunge both feet into the steaming water, grimacing at the burn climbing from my toes to my shins. Then will come the ohhhhh of sinking in up to my waist, the sides of my thighs tingling. Soon enough, I will bend my knees and slide my shoulder blades down the slope of the tub, the water creeping up along my belly until I catch my breath as my chest goes under.

Better than all of this is stepping back into the frigid air, my body buzzing with heat, veins bulging along both ankles. After drying, I will stride across the kitchen tile like I have always wanted to walk through my life, this skin of mine now the seam where fire and frost collide.


 

Joshua Dolezal is a visiting assistant professor of American literature at Central College. He is also an erstwhile wilderness ranger. His work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in The Gettysburg Review, Quarterly West, The Seattle Review, Natural Bridge, and North Dakota Quarterly, among other journals.

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